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Very often addicts will show signs of substance use long before we know consciously that they, in fact, have a problem with addiction. It can help us to support our loved ones, or to initiate our own recovery if we’re the ones struggling, to know some of the signs of substance use and to familiarize ourselves with them. While some of the signs are hard to pinpoint, others are more overt, obvious and easy to spot. Every addict’s experience with addiction is different and unique to them, so we can all present totally different signs of substance use that can differ from other people’s, but here are some common ones that many of us exhibit.

One telltale sign of substance use is increased secrecy. When people are struggling with addiction of any kind, one of their instincts is often to keep their behaviors and addictive urges a secret from their loved ones. They don’t want to give anyone in their lives cause for concern, they don’t want to be judged, and they also don’t want anyone to try and stop them from using. They might deny they have a problem if they’re confronted. They might start isolating themselves more than usual. They might shrug off loved ones’ questions and concerns, telling them they’re overreacting and refusing to admit that they have a problem. They might constantly change the subject when the topic of addiction arises. They might deflect their issues onto other people and transfer their pain onto them. They might accuse people of trying to bring them down. They might accuse people of wrongfully condemning them for something they’re not doing.

Another sign of substance use is worsening depression and anxiety. Addiction and mental health issues often go hand in hand, in what is commonly referred to as co-occurring disorders. When in recovery, we often need treatment for more than one illness, and we may receive dual diagnoses. When we’re using substances, it can be because we’re self-medicating from our mental and emotional pain. When we feel a surge in our stress levels, when we feel particularly worried or are under a lot of stress, we turn to substances to help ourselves cope. 

As we come to find out, we can fall into the downward spiral of addiction very quickly, so it’s important that we don’t ignore any of the warning signs. We want to make sure we’re acknowledging them once we’re aware of them, rather than avoiding or denying them. Once we’ve picked up on any of the signs, we want to make sure we initiate communication and seek out support as quickly as possible.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, you are not alone. Reach out for support. The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and recovery, and we’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Call (800) 871-5440 today.